Have you been injured in a bus accident in Atlanta, GA? If so, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and suffering. Hasner Law can help you fight to get all of the money you need and deserve. Give our Atlanta bus accident attorneys a call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.
How Can an Atlanta Bus Accident Attorney Help Me?
You may be entitled to compensation, but you shouldn’t have to navigate a contested legal claim by yourself. That’s where the experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Hasner Law, PC can help.
When you hire our skilled team, we will fully investigate the bus accident to determine its cause as well as who may be held legally responsible. Our firm will carefully analyze the police report, the bus driver’s history and training, and road conditions. We will also reach out to potential witnesses, and calculate how much you are potentially owed in damages. Damages would include compensation for things like your medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering you endured.
As you might imagine, insurance companies do not have bus accident victims’ best interests in mind. They will try to settle your claim as quickly and cheaply as possible. But, we know how to handle tough negotiations and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. If necessary, we will take your case to trial.
There’s no fee for your first consultation, so give our Atlanta law offices a call to set up a time to discuss your case today.
Overview of Bus Accidents in Georgia
Accidents involving buses can be catastrophic. Due to the vehicle’s sheer size and carrying capacity, a bus crash can cause severe injuries to a large number of people at once, including daily commuters, school children, and long-distance travelers. There are also others on the road that are subject to being hurt in a bus accident, such as other cars, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Now, when we speak of buses, we are referring to city buses (like the MARTA in Atlanta), charter buses, long-distance buses, and school buses.
The types of accidents we most commonly see are:
- Single-vehicle accidents – where a bus collides with an object, like a guardrail
- Multi-vehicle accidents
- Injuries to passengers entering and exiting the bus
- Collisions with pedestrians, and
- Roll-over accidents.
As you might imagine, the cause of a bus accident can be due to a number of things, including:
- Driver fatigue
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Distracted driving
- Other traffic violations – such as failure to yield or running a stop sign
- Issues with bus maintenance
- Inadequate training, and
- Negligent hiring – such as employing an unlicensed driver.
For these reasons, it is important to take extra precautions when being in or around buses and to drive defensively at all times.
Common Types of Bus Accident Injuries
Now, one of the reasons that passengers are more susceptible to injury in bus accidents is due to the fact that these vehicles do not have airbags. Most are not equipped with adequate seatbelts. Further, the potential for severe injury increases in bus rollovers or when a rider is ejected from the vehicle.
That said, the types of injuries we regularly see include:
- Broken bones
- Head trauma, including traumatic brain injuries
- Neck, back, and spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries, including whiplash
- Internal injuries, and
- Burns .
If you are involved in a bus collision, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Certain injuries, such as neck and back trauma may not manifest immediately following an accident. However, these injuries can be serious and may worsen if left untreated.
Seeing a doctor right away won’t just help to keep you safe. It can also help to establish a causal link between the crash and your injuries, which will be critical if you decide to pursue compensation.
Standard of Care Bus Drivers
Being injured in a bus accident could be grounds for a lawsuit. If you are successful, you may be awarded financial compensation. However, these cases can be difficult because you first need to prove that someone acted negligently. Under the law, negligence means that the person failed to exercise the level of care required of the situation, and this resulted in your injury.
Buses Are Common Carriers in Georgia
It’s important to note that in Georgia there is a heightened standard of care for those classified as “common carriers.” A common carrier is anyone that offers transportation services to the public in exchange for money. This would likely include any bus driver that works for the school system, the city, or a charter company. However, it would not include a driver that is operating his or her own privately owned bus.
In other words, it is not the type of vehicle that matters, but rather the driving purpose. This distinction is important because if a bus operator is not considered a common carrier, the driver is simply held to the same standard as all other motorists. This means that he or she need only operate the vehicle as safely as the average driver.
But, for common carriers, the standard is “extraordinary diligence.” As you can probably guess, this requires extra vigilance in driving, plus the added responsibility of maintaining the bus in a safe condition. However, keep in mind that although this is a higher standard than would apply to most drivers on the road, it does not require absolute perfection. This means that the fact that you are involved in a collision with a bus does not necessarily mean that the driver was negligent.
For example, it could very well be that another driver was at fault, such as someone rear-ending the bus and causing it to enter a busy intersection. Or, the driver could have encountered an unexpected blizzard that caused the vehicle to slide off the road. In these cases, unless there was more evidence of fault, the driver would most likely not be liable for your injuries.
Potential Defendants in Bus Accident Case
Bus accident claims often involve many individuals and can get complicated.
For example, if the accident occurred because there was a malfunctioning part on the bus, this could be the fault of the part manufacturer.
Or, the problem could have been with the way the part was installed. This might implicate the mechanic, technician or the company that employed either of these individuals. These cases can be difficult to sort out, so it is important to have a personal injury lawyer on your side that will fully investigate everyone involved.
There may also be multiple drivers responsible. An example would be if someone ran a red light, and a bus had its brakes go out while crossing the intersection. If the driver was working for a bus company, the claim may be brought against both the driver and the company.
Claims Against Government-Operated Buses
It is also more difficult if the bus was government-operated, such as a city or school bus accident. This is because state employees have what is known as “sovereign immunity,” meaning they are generally not subject to civil suits.
However, there are some key exceptions to sovereign immunity that your attorney can help you explore. One is if the driver was engaged in any criminal behavior, such as drunk driving. Another exception applies in cases of gross negligence. Here a driver acts so far outside the bounds of reasonable driving that liability must be imposed.
Cases involving sovereign immunity can be even more complicated as you may have a more limited timeframe in which to file your suit. There could also be limits placed on the amount of compensation you can be awarded. For these reasons, it’s important to contact an attorney soon after the accident so that you can understand your options.
What Should I Do If I’m in a Bus Accident?
See a Doctor: Remember, if you are involved in a bus accident, seeking medical attention is your number one priority.
Document the Crash: The next step would be to document the accident as best as you can. This would involve taking photographs of the scene and writing down your recollection of what happened. You should also gather the contact information of other drivers, bus passengers, and any witnesses you can track down.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company: If you were driving when the collision occurred, it is a good idea to contact your insurance company and report the accident. You should also consider reaching out to an attorney at this time. Bear in mind that you may also be contacted and offered a settlement amount. Don’t feel pressured to take this money until you speak with a bus accident attorney.
Limit Conversations: Also, be careful not to admit fault to an insurance company or anyone else. These statements can be used against you later on and may affect your ability to receive compensation for your injuries.
Get a Copy of Relevant Reports: Now, a few days after the accident you should try to obtain a copy of the police report. You might also consider asking for a property valuation from your insurance company. In the weeks or months that follow, keep a detailed report of all of your medical care visits and the treatment that was involved. Record any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred in obtaining this care.
Note Lost Income: Further, note how many days of work you miss and whether you are able to perform your duties in the same way as before the accident. All of this information can be important evidence in your case and will help an attorney evaluate your claim and improve your chances of success.
Call Our Atlanta Bus Accident Lawyers Today
If you were injured in a bus accident, it’s important not to delay. There is a two-year statute of limitations that applies, which can significantly impact your claim. Contact Hasner Law to find out how our Atlanta personal injury attorneys might be able to help you get the compensation deserve. We offer a free consultation, so reach out to us by phone or online today.